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U's Layer Road ticket office is demolished
8:00pm Thursday 31st May 2012 in Countywide news
IT took just 20 minutes for the gateway to Colchester’s iconic football stadium to be turned into a giant heap of rubble.
The ticket office at the former home of the U’s in Layer Road will now be just a distant memory for Colchester’s townsfolk after it was torn down yesterday.
Jon Burns, chairman of Colchester United Supporters Association, said: “It is the end of an era.
“It is such a big part of footballing history, not just for Colchester fans but a lot of fans around the country who visited for the 70 or so years it was there.
“It is an old-style ground that we will never see again and you rarely see around the country now. Looking at the pictures brought back so many memories.”
Developer Abbey New Homes won approval from Colchester Council in November to level the site and replace it with 58 homes.
Earlier this month work on clearing the ground began.
Until then it had been empty for four years, with residents complaining it had become an eyesore.
Thousands of fans will have passed through the turnstiles during the club’s 71-year history at the site.
But yesterday, it was just Gazette photographer Steve Argent and a handful of workmen who watched on as the destruction ensued.
Two bulldozers smashed a hole through one of the brick walls which sent the main structure and roof tumbling down.
Next, the wooden floor was pulled from under the rubble, leaving just the blue doors and advertising boards.
Among the dust, workmen plucked some of the last tickets left behind when the ground closed to the public for the final time, in April 2008.
Still standing is the supporters’ Corner Bar building with the turnstile block below, which will be demolished next week.
First to go, three weeks ago, were the seats. Then asbestos had to be carefully removed from the roofs.
Last week bulldozers ripped out the stands.
Matt Hudson, Colchester United spokesman, said: “It is sad it has all come to a close. We have worked hard to establish ourselves and people will always have Layer Road in their hearts.”
The Layer Road site was sold by the council for about £1.5million – well below the £4million it hoped it would fetch at the height of the property boom.
Andy Redman, head of development for Savills, in Chelmsford, handled the sale of the 3.63-acre site.
The Layer Road ground was first home to Colchester Town and then since 1937 for Colchester United.